Contests & Giveaways

It’s Finally Here!!! Mortal Enchantment Cover Reveal & Contest!!!

by on Apr.15, 2014, under Contests & Giveaways, Fantasy News

Today, Stacey O’Neale and Phoenix Reign Publishing are revealing the cover for

MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, releasing on May 20, 2014!

Check out the awesome cover and enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card!!!

On to the reveal!

 Mortal Enchantment

“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.”
Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

In Kalin Matthew’s world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she’s built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she’s attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more…

Add to your Goodreads TBR!!!

If you haven’t read THE SHADOW PRINCE, you can download if NOW for FREE from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!!!

The Shadow PrinceEvery sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Also available in PRINT from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photoshoot-21Stacey O’Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she’s not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at http://staceyoneale.com/.

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The Jennifer L. Armentrout Effect – Cover Quotes and Cover Reveals

by on Apr.03, 2014, under Contests & Giveaways, Fantasy News, Publishing

Let me start by saying that getting a cover quote for a book is a pain in the ass. Most of the authors providing them are incredibly busy writing their own books. This limits the amount of quotes one author can offer. In turn, getting cover quotes becomes very selective and competitive.

I love a challenge

Because I had a quote from Katee Robert (NYT and USA Today Bestseller) for THE SHADOW PRINCE, I needed another bestseller to provide the quote for MORTAL ENCHANTMENT. I decided to aim big and ask one of my all-time favorite authors, Jennifer L. Armentrout. So, I sent her a message and waited patiently for her to respond.

Alcohol would be nice

Then, I get the message I’ve been waiting for - JLA agrees to write the cover quote.

This!

And now, the MORTAL ENCHANTMENT Cover Quote from The Queen of Teen herself (insert drum roll)…

“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.”
Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

SIGNUPS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE MORTAL ENCHANTMENT CONTEST & COVER REVEAL!!! See below for details and links!!!

Mortal Enchantment Blurb:

In Kalin Matthew’s world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she’s built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she’s attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more…

Add to your Goodreads TBR

Cover Reveal: April 15th at 9 AM EST

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Giveaway: $50 Gift Card will be included in post.

An HTML post will be sent out the day before and all you have to do is copy and paste. For those who prefer to create their own blog post everything will be sent separately in the email, as well.

You do not need a blog to participate. If you’d like to take part you can share the cover, blurb, giveaway link, and links on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
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It’s Official: The Shadow Prince Blog Tour

by on Mar.19, 2014, under Contests & Giveaways, Fantasy News, Publishing

The Shadow Prince Blog Tour ButtonThis is the full line-up for THE SHADOW PRINCE Blog Tour

Make sure you drop by each tour stop for the Contests, Giveaways, Guest Posts, Interviews, and more!!!

Mundie Moms  3/25 Interview
Reading Teen  3/25 Guest Post
The Bookish Babes  3/26 Interview
The Story Siren  3/26 Guest Post
Fiktshun  3/27 Guest Post
We Blog Fantasy  3/27 Review
Parajunkee  3/28 Interview
Good Choice Reading 4/1 Interview
Romancing the Book  4/1 Guest Post
YA Sisterhood  4/4 Interview
The Irish Banana  4/8 Guest Post
Jenuine Cupcakes  4/11 Interview
K-Books  4/15 Interview
Step Into Fiction  4/18 Guest Post
Two Chicks on Books  4/18 Interview
Read in Between the Wines  4/22 Guest Post
Stuck in Books  4/28 Guest Post
Fangirlish  4/28 Interview
YA Reads  4/28 Interview

The Shadow PrinceEvery sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Also available in PRINT from Amazon

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$50 Gift Card CONTEST & Cover Love: The Shadow Prince by ME!!!

by on Feb.11, 2014, under Contests & Giveaways

This prequel novella will be FREE and available on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble on March 25, 2014!

The Shadow PrinceEvery sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Add to your TBR: Goodreads

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Photoshoot-21Stacey O’Neale started her career in publishing as a blogger turned publicist for two successful small publishers. She loves to write stories with swoony paranormal heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

When she’s not writing, she loves blogging and fangirling about books on twitter. Occasionally, she leaves her computer to go outside.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 

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Wanna be part of my Upcoming CONTEST & Cover Reveal?

by on Jan.16, 2014, under Contests & Giveaways

Cover Reveal: The Shadow Prince by Stacey O’Neale

February 11th at 9 AM EST.

This prequel novella will be FREE and available on Amazon on March 25, 2014!

This is a YOUNG ADULT FANTASY NOVELLA.

A pre-made HTML post will be sent the night before and all you will have to do is copy and paste. If you prefer to set up you own post, I will also send everything you need separately. :)

There will also be a $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway with the reveal that everyone is more than welcome to share and enter. It will be included in the post.

You can sign up by filling out this short form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LJmYpWkAFS_lR5NKpBUhBSkKs_qgkFABdVkYEg3QNYw/formResponse

NOTE: You do NOT have to be a blogger to participate. On the form, it will ask for your blog address. You can just use your Facebook, Tumblr, or Goodreads page address instead.

Novella Blurb:

Cover Reveal Coming SoonEvery sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Add to my Goodreads TBR

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Interview with Literary Agent Eric Ruben

by on Sep.15, 2013, under Contests & Giveaways, Literary Agent Interviews

Eric RubenA graduate of New York’s Cardozo School of Law and a veteran entertainment professional, I have over twenty-five years experience as an attorney, literary agent, talent manager, and professional performer. My unique perspective is valuable to performers, writers, artists, and others. Working in partnership with a diverse clientele, we determine how best to move their careers forward and achieve their personal, professional and artistic goals.

Website

1. What is the best part of being a literary agent?

Being able to help talented people bring their vision to an audience. It’s also nice when I can send them a check for their work.

2. How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I view myself as a partner in the author’s professional life. I don’t just sell their work. As a creative person myself, I offer artistic suggestions when asked. As an attorney, I look at their career holistically, not just one deal at a time but over a lifetime of creativity.

3. What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

How can I choose? Jennifer Ryan has The Hunted series, Josh Root has Undead Chaos, Anne Elizabeth has a Navy SEAL series, Samantha Kane has a series with Loveswept, and I recently secured deals for Corrina Lawson and Mary Strand. So I’d say I’m excited about all my clients. Also, I do legal work for some people I don’t represent as an agent, such as Alex Jamieson, the famous health expert you might remember from the film Supersize Me.

4. What are the primary mistakes you see writers make in the query process?

Many writers are more concerned with what’s hot or social media rather than perfecting their craft. Writers need to write first and foremost. And then they need to focus on telling great stories with compelling characters and not try to impress me with style.

5. With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?

Overwriting or reading what seems like yet another version of something that’s been done to death. Or sometimes it’s just not my thing. This is a very subjective business.

6. Your agency website says that you’re interested in young adult, can you elaborate more on YA subgenres that you might consider?

Everything.

7. New Adult seems to be everywhere at the moment. What’s your opinion of this new genre and do you accept NA submissions?

I don’t think it’s really new, it’s just another box or label for marketing purposes. And yes.

8. Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where people can meet/pitch you?

Yes! September 15, 2013, I’ll be speaking at the New England Chapter of the Romance Writers of America about the Future of Publishing. The event is at 1:00PM at Old Town Hall, 16 South Road, Bedford, MA.

October 18-19, 2013 I’ll be at the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. I’ll be giving a workshop to authors on pitching to agents and editors, as well as taking pitches.

November 8-9, 2013 I’ll be at the Atlanta Writers Conference taking pitches, critiquing queries and participating in panel discussions.

9. Is a writing platform important for unpublished writers? Does it weigh in on your decision to represent? Are you a fan of social media?

The most important thing is the writing. That being said, I think anyone considering a career as a writer, or any part of showbiz, should have a website, a Facebook page and some presence in social media. I think it’s very important. I myself spend a fair amount of time on Twitter.

10. Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

Don’t wait until you’ve achieved a goal to be happy. Be happy writing, researching, doing whatever you’re doing.

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Interview with Literary Agent Andrea Somberg

by on Aug.15, 2013, under Contests & Giveaways, Literary Agent Interviews

Andrea SombergA literary agent for over ten years, Andrea Somberg represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects aimed at a young adult and middle grade audience. Previously an agent at the Donald Maass Agency and Vigliano Associates, she joined Harvey Klinger Inc. in the spring of 2005. Her client list is quite full, however she is always actively looking to take on new authors who write in the following categories: Fiction; literary, commercial, womens fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, middle grade. Nonfiction: memoir, narrative, popular science, pop-culture, humor, how-to, parenting, self-help, lifestyle, travel, interior design, crafts, cookbooks, health & fitness, business, and sports.

For more information about Andrea and her clients, please visit: http://www.andreasomberg.com

1. What is the best part of being a literary agent?

I get to do what I love for a living and to work with people who are as passionate about books and ideas as I am! Conversely, I think one of the hardest things about being an agent is to know that there are so many great books being published, but that I don’t have time to read them all. On the otherhand , probably anyone alive can complain about the same thing! My dad once bought me a tshirt that said ‘Too many books, too little time.” That about sums it up.

2. How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

As an agent my primary role is to be my clients’ advocate – and I try never to forget that. The publishing industry is, ultimately, a business, and, as such, it can be a cruel place. My goal is to help them navigate this world and to help them build a career. As for my day-to-day dealings, I try to be very open with my clients, keeping them up to date every step of the way, and to always be accessible. (If I’m slow to respond to any of your query letters, that is the reason why! My clients come first….). In return, I ask my authors to be honest with me. If they’re unhappy with something, I want to know.

3. What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

My client, Sarah Beth Durst’s YA novel, Conjured, is pubbing this September! You might be familiar with Sarah and her work – she’s been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times, and some of her previous titles include Vessel, Ice, Enchanted Ivy, Drink Slay Love, and the middle grade novel Into the Wild. Conjured is the start of a new series with Walker and it is awesome. It’s about a girl in the witness protection program who has weird, half-remembered dreams about carnival tents and buttons being sewed into her skin. Creepy, right? As the Kirkus review states: “Durst excels at describing grotesque violence and gorgeous magical transformations alike, painting a touching portrait of first love against a backdrop of Twilight Zone–type terrors.”

I’m also really excited about Linda Budzinski’s debut, The Funeral Singer, in which a girl becomes an Internet sensation after singing a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at a local rockstar’s funeral. It delves into the pitfalls of fame and internet stardom, while also being a really sweet story about two people falling in love.

4. What are the primary mistakes you see writers make in the query process?

Short and sweet for the query letter is usually best. And if you’re writing fiction, I

always suggest including a few sample pages in the body of the email itself (unless the agent’s submission guidelines expressly forbid you from doing so).

5. With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?

It really comes down to the strength of the writing and the narrative voice. If I’m not immediately engaged by the protagonist and their world, I’m going to pass

6. Your agency website says that you’re interested in young adult, can you elaborate more on YA subgenres that you might consider?

I’m open to all subgenres of YA! Fantasy, sf, contemporary, historical, paranormal, thriller, mystery – you name it, I’m interested. One of my favorite things about young adult is that there can be a lot of crossover between the genres vs adult publishing where books are more rigidly bound by hard and fast rules. This is largely because adult fiction oftentimes needs to be assigned a category for selling purposes, whereas in YA, “young adult” is a category in and of itself.

7. New Adult seems to be everywhere at the moment. What’s your opinion of this new genre and do you accept NA submissions?

I think new adult is still getting its footing – even editors who are acquiring it are a bit unsure of the parameters. But I also feel that the genre is long overdue. After the chiclit glut of the early 2000s publishers backed away from fiction featuring protagonists in this age group. Books were either YA (with the protagonists overwhelmingly 18 or younger) or they were adult fiction with older female protagonists (and oftentimes were more serious in tone, and family driven). As a result I think a lot of readers in their early 20s turned to YA – but were craving something that was more representative of the struggles unique to their age group. . So I think new adult is a very good thing and, yes, I’m definitely accepting NA submissions.

8. Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where people can meet/pitch you?

I am giving a talk in October for a group in New Jersey, but other than that I have not booked anything yet. Stay tuned to my website, though, as that will most likely change as the year goes on….

9. Is a writing platform important for unpublished writers? Does it weigh in on your decision to represent? Are you a fan of social media?

It factors heavily into any nonfiction projects I take on, but less so for fiction and young adult. For those my decision rests almost entirely on the strength of the project itself. That’s not to say that platform and social media isn’t important – I’ve seen it make a huge difference in terms of sales But for fiction the book needs to stand on its own – and the platform is an added bonus.

10. Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

Query widely, and don’t give up hope if you receive a few dozen passes. On the otherhand, if the rejections do keep on coming, it might make sense to take a step back and reassess. Is there something about your project that is turning people off? Will the concept work in the current publishing climate? Or perhaps there is some fatal flaw in the sample pages. And don’t be afraid to table a project, and start another. Writing a book is an incredibly difficult task, and it takes practice. Many of my clients were unable to find representation for their first novel – it was the second or third – or even their fifth – that was the ‘one’. Also, be sure to read in your genre a lot. You shouldn’t write to the market but you should be aware of what is selling. Also, these days, writing a good novel sometimes just isn’t enough. The “higher” the concept, the more unique and intriguing, the better.

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Interview with Literary Agent Kathleen Rushall

by on May.31, 2013, under Contests & Giveaways, Literary Agent Interviews

Kathleen RushallKathleen Rushall started as an intern at the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, and then spent almost two years at Waterside Productions. Kathleen looks forward to garnering fresh voices, strong narratives, and whimsical tales in all areas of young adult literature including contemporary fiction, suspense, Southern gothic, historical fiction, and science fiction. She is open to all genres of YA, but has a soft spot for thrillers, horror, romance, laugh-out-loud voices, and would love to find a dark mystery. She’s also open to New Adult queries. Kathleen is looking for funny, character-driven, quirky picture books and all genres of big voiced middle grade fiction.

For all manuscripts, character development and voice are essential. Please make sure your work is as polished as possible and has been revised, both for plot and for superficial changes (grammar counts!).

Kathleen also represents select nonfiction and is interested in parenting, cooking, crafts, business, alternative medicine, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.

A few of Kathleen’s recent and soon to be published books include INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson (Flux), A RUSTIC CHIC WEDDING: A Collection of DIY Wedding Crafts and Inspirations by Morgann Hill (Running Press), and BACKHOE JOE by Lori Alexander (Harper Collins).

Kathleen graduated from Seattle University with her bachelor’s degree in English and minor in fine arts. She moved back to her hometown of San Diego to earn her master’s degree in English, specializing in children’s literature, from San Diego State University. When she is not at her desk, Kathleen enjoys exploring new restaurants, dreaming of Ireland, and walking her Australian Shepherd, Finn.

1. What is the best part of being a literary agent?

Working with authors. I really enjoy brainstorming with my authors, helping them shape their stories, and, of course, watching their writing careers take off! I love the imagination, camaraderie, and drive of the people in this industry and working together is one of my favorite parts of the job.

2. How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I expect the same as I give. An ideal author is hardworking, self-motivated, open to constructive criticism and knows that revisions are all part of the process. Open communication on both ends is very important to me. I’m transparent and keep authors in the loop on everything. A sense of humor and an awareness of the industry is always a bonus!

3. What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

I’m really looking forward to the debut of JR Johansson’s YA thriller, INSOMNIA (Flux) this June. It’s a deliciously creepy story and Jenn is a terrific writer. On the nonfiction side of things, I’m so excited to see the little fairies come to life in Lenka Vodicka and Asia Currie’s FOREST FAIRY CRAFTS (C&T Publishing), which also hits shelves this summer. I can’t wait to see some of my authors’ picture books come out, but those are going to be a little further down the road. Out first is Lori Alexander’s adorable BACKHOE JOE (Harper Children’s), just around the corner in 2014.

4. What are the primary mistakes you see writers make in the query process?

Not doing their homework. Querying before they’re ready. Including irrelevant personal info in the pitch instead of information about the book.

5. With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?

There is a lot that goes into good writing, but the ideal product is uncomplicated. In the first pages I need to have a clear sense of whose story this is (voice) and the what, where, and why.

6. Your agency website says you’re interested in young adult, can you elaborate more on YA subgenres that you might consider?

Everything on the website is still true! I’m open to pretty much all genres of YA. The only genres of YA I am not currently open to are paranormal or dystopian YA. I’m especially looking for contemporary stories, thrillers, horror, and historical YA. Characters and voice are what really grab me, no matter what world/ setting/ time period they may be experiencing.

7. New Adult has been garnering some attention lately and I noticed you said you’re open to those submissions. What types of stories are you looking for (contemporary, fantasy, horror, etc.)?

I think we’re on the brink of seeing New Adult expand beyond contemporary and I’m happy to look at all genres. While I’m definitely looking for contemporary New Adult, I’m also open to futuristic/ speculative, horror, thriller, steampunk, and science fiction New Adult.

8. Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where people can meet/pitch you?

Yes! I’ll be attending the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in Seattle this July, the Willamette Writers Conference in August, and the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference in September.

9. Is a writing platform important for unpublished writers? Does it weigh in on your decision to represent? Are you a fan of social media?

For nonfiction authors, platform is very important. For fiction authors, it’s not completely necessary but it does make you appealing. Social media is a great way to be part of the writing community (especially the KidLit community). You’ll be able to keep up on industry news and network with other authors, agents, and editors, all while building a name for yourself.

10. Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

Aim for a balance of thinking long-term and in the present. Always keep your future career in mind and take the necessary steps to get you where you want to be in one, two, or five years. Visualize what you want and make a plan to achieve it. Do your research and join writing organizations in your genre (such as SCBWI and RWA). This is where you’ll learn the steps to getting published as well as strengthen your writing (and demonstrate to agents that you are aware of the industry and current market).

The other side of it is to also keep your mind in the present. Don’t get overwhelmed. Write what you love. Readers can tell when you’ve truly enjoyed writing something. Create something meaningful for you, and there’s a good chance it will be for others as well.

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Interview with Literary Agent Christa Heschke

by on Apr.15, 2013, under Contests & Giveaways, Literary Agent Interviews

Christa HeschkeChrista Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, young adult and new adult projects and is currently building her list. She is a fan of new adult and young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. In young and new adult, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. She’d also like to see  any steampunk and fantasy (urban and high), that pushes the boundaries of what’s currently on the shelves, perhaps a new take on these genres that has yet to be seen.  As for middle grade, Christa enjoys humorous contemporary, adventure and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories.

1. What is the best part of being a literary agent?

There are so many wonderful things about being a literary agent. I’d say my favorite is experiencing the feeling that comes with finding something great, that you truly connect with, in the query pile. For me, when this happens a list of editors who I think could be a good fit for the project pop into my head. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you can help an author get their work out there to readers. Writing a book is not easy and I am always so impressed to see the dedication and drive many writers have to their craft—their work becomes a part of them and I’m glad to be able to help as much as I can.

Being an Agent is also wonderful, as we get to be involved in the entire process from query letter to finished book, building an author’s career and every step in between. McIntosh & Otis is a full service agency so every day is different and exciting in its own way. I also handle foreign rights, subrights (audio, book club, etc.) contracts and film for M&O’s children’s clients.

2. How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I am very hands on with my clients and pride myself in getting back to everyone in a timely manner. Of course things come up sometimes and I can’t respond as quickly as I’d like, but it’s important to me that everyone, whether they have a new project coming out or not, feels nurtured and are getting the time and attention they deserve. Part of being an agent is really getting to know all your clients beyond their writing and understanding what is important to them. For anyone I work with, I want them to know that any advice I give or suggestions I make are because I care about them and their careers—and I just ask that they consider and trust that. An agent-client relationship is all about listening to each other and feeling comfortable enough to have open discourses. If a client has any concerns I want to know. If they have suggestions for an editor to send a project to I’d love to hear it. It’s a partnership.

3. What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

I am a newer agent, so much of my focus currently is on building my client list, while also managing M&O’s children clients. It is such an honor to work with so many talented writers! I am very excited about a non-fiction picture book project with Houghton Mifflin. I represent the illustrator for the title. It’s in very early stages right now, but I will certainly be sharing more as it progresses. I also have a dark contemporary YA going through a revision that I’m eager to start submitting later this Spring. Too, I recently got back from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where I was pitching foreign rights, so it’s certainly an exciting time here. Foreign sales are another great source of income for authors!

4. What are the primary mistakes you see writers make in the query process?

Some of the mistakes I encounter are queries that aren’t addressed to a specific (or correct) person and “too long” query letters. I can’t say enough how important it is to do your research before querying agents and the best place to find the correct information is on the agency’s website, if they have one. Often sites like querytracker and agentquery can be out of date. A query letter should be written in a professional way in business format. I, on occasion, receive queries that say, “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Editor/Agent.” This to me says that you sent out a large multiple submission and didn’t take the time to think about who might be a good fit for your project. Research who at a specific Agency handles the type of material you write and address it to them, not the department or the agency in general. Remember when you’re querying you’re looking for someone you’d like to work with too, not just any agent who will offer representation.

Keep your query to a page and don’t give away the entire story in your letter. You want to give just enough to grab an agent’s attention, but not to the point where you’re taking out any element of surprise in your story or taking away from the reading experience. Anything longer than a page is too long and often won’t get read. You should have three to five paragraphs, an introduction, your pitch/info about the project, any pertinent info about yourself (other books you’ve written or have already been published, any other writing experience/credits) and a closing (thank you for your time, this is not an exclusive submission etc.) Also, include what you’ve enclosed with the letter (a synopsis, first pages, SASE etc.).

5. With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?

One of the most important things to me when reading any project is the voice. If the voice isn’t there for me, even if there is non-stop action going on, I may not want to read on. A reader needs to connect with your main character pretty early on—we need to care about them. Also, manuscripts that are very description heavy/expository in the opening pages may cause me to start skimming to see if it picks up. I think it’s very important to include dialogue in the first few pages and try not to over-explain. Your protagonist’s entire backstory does not need to be known right away—in fact, it’s more compelling to reveal it bit by bit.

6. Your agency website says you’re interested in high fantasy, can you elaborate more on what you consider high fantasy?

I have always been a big fan of fantasy, for as long as I can remember, and working with writers on world building is something I always look forward to for any fantasy project, but I’m pretty selective when it comes to high fantasy. It can be hard for middle grade and young adult audiences unless it’s done really well. High fantasy would be any kind of fantasy that takes pace in a world distinct from our own. Most high fantasy is set back in a more “simple” age before technology—think knights and castles, magic and mythological creatures (dragons, elves, fairies etc.). It could also be a novel where a child from our time spends most of the book in a fantasy world, like The Chronicles of Narnia. Game of Thrones is high fantasy. The Last Unicorn. The Lord of the Rings. The Golden Compass. A good fantasy novel transports you to that world—I consider them “escape novels.”

7. We’re seeing small publishers and some self published authors producing bestsellers. What is your opinion of small publishers? Would you consider working with publishers outside of the ‟Big Five” or would you ever advise a client to self publish?

I think small publishers are great and I have no problem submitting to them. If I think a publisher is right for the book and will be dedicated to it (and my client agrees), that’s what’s most important. Editors at small publishers are generally acquiring fewer titles and thus often have more time to work on any given project. This is a big plus and one I definitely let my clients know when submitting. You don’t want your project to get lost among the many others an editor may be working on or behind what they consider their “big book” at the time (which can happen at a larger publisher). I suppose a downside could be that smaller presses might not have as many resources when it comes to marketing and publicity etc., but this isn’t always the case. Like you said, just because you’re published at a small publisher and not one of “the Big 5” doesn’t mean your book won’t become a bestseller!

Sure, self-publishing is always an option. I would just say that with self-publishing you, as an Author, really need to be able to dedicate the time to promote the book yourself and get the word out there.

8. Is a writing platform important for unpublished writers? Does it weigh in on your decision to represent? Are you a fan of social media?

I think it definitely is important. I wouldn’t say it’s the end of the world if you don’t have much of an online presence, but if you don’t, your Agent or Editor will likely suggest you start one. We’re living in a digital world, and it’s very important to how we communicate. I will always Google someone whom I’m interested in representing— so it’s important that you make sure what online presence you do have is professional. A website, Twitter or facebook is a quick way to get to know someone and what they might be like to work with. Also, it’s a good way to start getting followers and fans before you even get your first book published. Because, then once you do, you already have a fanbase who will want to buy your book and will tell their friends about it. Even with a powerhouse publicity/marketing team behind your book, self-promotion is still important and can make a difference in sales. Don’t underestimate the power of social media! When you start building your online presence, just make sure you take the time to do it right. A lackluster or bad online presence, I’d say, is worse than not having one at all.

9. Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where people can meet/pitch you?

I recently participated in the Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam on April 6th in New York City and the online WriteonCon Pitch Fest in March. Coming up, I will be one of the judges for the Pitch+250 contest on May 19th for pitches and first pages hosted by YA Adventures in Publishing. Follow me on Twitter @ChristaHeschke for up to date info on future conferences I’ll be attending.

10. Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

Read in your genre and for the age-range you’re writing for. This market can be tough, so it’s important to know what other books are on the shelves. This can be helpful in two ways. 1) You can use other novels out there in your pitch. “My novel X is Y meets Z.” This is a quick and easy way to give those reading your query a sense of what to expect. But, be careful here. Don’t call your novel the next Hunger Games or Twilight (or any other big blockbuster title). Let the writing speak for itself. 2) It’s important to know what’s on the shelves to make sure your novel isn’t seen as too similar. For instance, if you wrote a story about the zombie apocalypse and there are 10 other books out there, it may be hard to get an editor’s attention unless there’s a big twist that makes it stand out. Don’t write for trends. By the time anything is trending it might be too late to be submitting a title in that genre. It generally takes a book 1-2 years to publish after it’s sold, so if there are already 10 zombie books, there may be another 10 before your book would even publish. Don’t be afraid to write outside trends, even if it’s tough. Write what you love and have to put on the page. Write for you! Your agent will take it from there.

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Interview with Literary Agent Victoria Marini

by on Apr.01, 2013, under Contests & Giveaways, Literary Agent Interviews

Victoria MariniVictoria Marini is the newest member of the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency. Victoria can be found on twitter and her website which includes her blog, client list, query updates and more. She began taking on clients in 2010, and she has begun to build her own client list which includes literary fiction, commercial fiction, pop-culture non-fiction, and young adult. She is very interested in acquiring engaging Literary fiction and mysteries / suspense, commercial women’s fiction (romantic suspense, sci-fi, fantasy), and Young Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller and horror ). Above all, she is looking for anything with an engaging voice, compelling narrative and authentic characters.

1. What is the best part of being a literary agent?

Getting and delivering good news.

2. How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I have an “open-door” policy. I’m transparent, honest, and cordial and I generally expect the same from my authors. Communicating with my clients is a priority.

3. What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

Oh man, so Steven Parlato’s THE NAMESAKE just came out and it’s heartbreaking and stunning and brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Lucas Mann’s CLASS A comes out in May and I couldn’t be more thrilled. He’s going to be a literary powerhouse, truly. He was compared to Joan Didion and Gay Talese! He’s an absolute master of creative non-fiction. And Corey Haydu’s OCD LOVE STORY comes out this July and I. Can. Not. Wait. Corey is one of the most talented, original, stunning YA authors in a decade. She’s incredible.

4. What are the primary mistakes you see writers make in the query process?

Not doing their homework. And talking about themselves too much and their book too little.

5. With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?

Any number of reasons. The plot gets too crazy. The plot gets too boring/slow. Multiple sub-plots aren’t connecting. I can’t understand why the characters are doing what they’re doing. There’s no mystery left, no sense of “what happens next!”

6. Your agency website says that you’re interested in young adult, can you elaborate more on YA subgenres that you might consider?

All of them, honestly. I love big, splashy, commercial or intimate and literary. I love sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, horror, historical, and suspense. Some examples: I loved HEIST SOCIETY, CODE NAME VERITY, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, CREWEL, BEFORE I FALL, THEN YOU WERE GONE, THE PECULIAR, LIAR, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and I’m especially looking forward to 17 & GONE.

7. When accepting fantasy and sci-fi, what subgenres do you lean toward?

It’s hard to nail down, but think “Firefly” rather than “The Hobbit,” or as my friend and fellow agent Sarah LaPolla coined: “’Star Wars’” rather than ‘Star Trek.’”

8. Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where people can meet/pitch you?

I’ll be at the Midwest Writer’s Conference in Muncie Indiana this summer, and I’m doing writeOn con, too.

9. Is a writing platform important for unpublished writers? Does it weigh in on your decision to represent? Are you a fan of social media?

It depends on what you’re publishing. Non-Fiction Lifestyle / How-to/ Arts etc… yes it’s absolutely important. Fiction, I don’t generally care about platform, but I do think it’s essential to maintain an online presence to connect with your readers, peers, booksellers, industry professionals, etc…

10. Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

Alright. Tough truth time: If you’re wondering whether or not something matters enough or is impressive enough to put in your query, it probably doesn’t and it probably isn’t.

Aspiring authors are terrified to just write “My name is Victoria Marini. SCENTED CANDLE is my first novel. I hope you enjoy it.” And I get it. You’ve been told that you need to stand out. But, I respond better to “I am an as yet unpublished writer,” than “ My book was published by [insert vanity press].” Or “and I have 5,000 twitter followers.” Or “I self-published and received several four star reviews.”

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